Intactivism News
July - Sepember 2003

More recent news

(More recent items first)


General News of Wednesday, 24 September 2003

Woman gets five-year jail term for performing FGM

Wa [GHANA], Sept 24, GNA - A Circuit Court at Wa on Monday sentenced a 50-year woman to five years' imprisonment for cutting the genital organs of three girls.

Fefe Dari, a farmer, pleaded guilty to a charge of female circumcision.

Alhaji Mohammed Mustapha, the presiding judge, expressed concern about the continued practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) despite intense education campaigns to stop the practice.

Fefe is the first person to be convicted of the offence in the Upper West Region since the Criminal Code Amendment Act, 1994 Act (484) made the practice of FGM a second-degree felony.

Police Inspector Stephen Dobara told the court that personnel of the Women and Juvenile Unit (WAJU) of Regional Police Command had a tip-off that the convict had mutilated the "labia minora" and clitoris of three little girls.

A team of policemen went to the village where the convict and the three girls aged five, one-and-half and three weeks were identified. Inspector Dobara said the woman was arrested and brought to the Wa Police Station together with the victims who were later sent to the Wa Regional Hospital for medical examination.

The judge said the harsh sentence was to serve as a deterrent to others.


Business Day (South Africa)
Thursday 11 September 2003

US to help fund circumcision village

By Max Matavire Municipal Reporter

The United States government's aid and developmental arm, USAid, will donate R12-million for the development of a pilot circumcision village at Motherwell.

The metro council's health and environmental services committee agreed that it should identify other land for conducting the tradition which, ironically, while preparing boys to be men, has tragically caused many deaths as well.

Many boys in the Eastern Cape die each year at initiation schools, or have to have their penises amputated because of botched circumcisions.

The council plans to identify special sites to obviate circumcision villages springing up all over the place.

This will have the further benefit of ensuring that key services, such as water and sanitation, are provided.

Two large sites bordering Motherwell have so far been identified and will be zoned for cultural purposes.

In a report to the committee, environmental services department manager Dr Paul Martin said presently the practice was carried out at various sites throughout the metro which were not appropriately zoned for such purposes.

The USAid funds were sourced by Dr Mamisa Chabula, former Cacadu municipality director of health services and herself a proponent of proper circumcision practices.

Currently, the metro cannot provide water and sanitation at circumcision schools because the land they occupy is not owned by council. About 1,000 initiates use sites around Motherwell every year.

The chosen sites are said to meet all the safety and infrastructural requirements.

Eastern Province Herald

Can you imagine USAid funding a comparable programme for young girls?


The Sunday Mail

Youth nipple piercing ban

political editor

NIPPLE and genital piercing of people younger than 18 is to be banned in Queensland.

The State Government will introduce tough penalties, including jail, for practitioners who flout the ban.

Premier Peter Beattie said they faced a year behind bars.

"While adults are free to make up their own minds about the dangers of nipple and genital piercing, some children need these laws to protect them from health risks and exploitation," he said.

There had been cases reported of Queensland children as young as 13 having their nipples, penis, foreskin, scrotum, clitoris and labia pierced.

Although there was no law that required the industry to check the age of customers, most reputable body-piercing shops in Queensland turned away young teens.

However, back-yard operations had enjoyed good business. It costs between $75 and $150 to have nipple and genital piercing.

Under the proposed new legislation, body piercers who ignored the law could face six months' imprisonment and be fined up to $3000.

"These penalties will be doubled – up to a year in jail or a $6000 fine – for piercing a minor whose decision-making capacity is impaired by alcohol, drugs or a mental or intellectual disability," Mr Beattie said.

Police Minister Tony McGrady said a bill including the new legislation would be introduced to Queensland Parliament this year.

"Genital and nipple piercing . . . may have lifelong consequences, so decisions to undergo these procedures should only be made by adults," he said.

So it will be illegal to pierce a boy's foreskin but legal to cut it right off!


Munster Express Online (Belfast)
August 22, 2003

Infant dies after home circumcision

The man responsible for carrying out a botched circumcision on four week old Callis Osaghae at a city centre house on Sunday evening may have conducted a number of similar operations in the Dublin area on the same day, it has emerged.

And the man, believed to be of European nationality in his 40s, with white hair, could have charged up to 300 euro per operation, with the parents of the deceased child believing he was a doctor.

As baby Callis, the third child and first born son of Nigerians Idehen (31) and Mabel (23) Osaghae, was buried in an area set aside for deceased infants at St. Otteran's Cemetery, Waterford, yesterday (Thursday), Gardai renewed their appeal for information on the man, who is no longer believed to be in the city.

The infant's grieving parents stayed away from Callis' burial in a bid to avoid further confrontation with journalists who surrounded their home when details of the death first emerged. Gardaí maintained a uniformed presence at the Summerhill Mews townhouse, as the family consistently refused to comment on the tragedy. They did, however, attend a prayer service in the multi-faith oratory at WRH earlier on Thursday, at which they were comforted by family and friends.

The baby, who would have been a month old on Tuesday, died at Waterford Regional Hospital having suffered severe blood loss after what is thought to have been a ritual circumcision.

Callis began bleeding heavily after the procedure was carried out in the family's rented home close to The Glen at about 5pm on Sunday. He was rushed to the emergency room at WRH in a taxi by his parents at about 4.30am on Monday, but died shortly afterwards. The couple had initially summoned the help of an ambulance but, as the baby was losing a substantial amount of blood, they decided to make their own way to the hospital.

Staff at the hospital subsequently alerted Gardaí, who launched an investigation into the tragedy. Detectives found no visible marks on the infant's body [?] and the results of a post-mortem examination carried out by Dr. Margaret Bolster of the State Pathologists' office in a bid to identify the exact cause of death have so far been inconclusive. Further tests are being carried out and are not expected to be released for several weeks.

Red Volvo
A Garda spokesperson said a number of people, including the infant's parents, had been interviewed as part of the ongoing investigation into the tragedy. The man who carried out the operation is not thought to have any apparent medical training, though Callis' parents are said to have thought he was a doctor. Gardai are now working on the theory that he travelled from Northern Ireland, carried out a number of circumcisions in Dublin and then went on to Waterford city, in a red Volvo estate. His nationality remains unclear.

It is understood the Osaghaes contacted the man from a mobile number they were given by other Nigerians living in Waterford and Dublin. The mobile number has since been disconnected.

Idehen and Mabel Osaghae have lived in Waterford with their two young daughters for over a year. The couple made an application for asylum on 27th June last year, but that application was subsequently withdrawn after the birth of their second daughter. Callis was born at WRH on 19th July. It is thought the family wanted the boy circumcised within six weeks of his birth for religious reasons, though it is not clear if they sought the operation at Ardkeen. A spokesperson for the SEHB has confirmed that WRH does not provide male circumcisions on religious or cultural grounds. If the procedure is deemed necessary on medical grounds, it is undertaken under a general anaesthetic and usually takes place after a child has reached two years of age. Temple St. and Crumlin Children's hospitals in Dublin do carry out circumcision for cultural reasons, in order to dissuade people from carrying out the procedure in unsafe or unhygienic surroundings. Crumlin Children's Hospital carried out 31 non-medical circumcisions this year, compared to 15 in 1993.

Cultural obligation
Circumcision of young male children is a cultural/religious obligation for many of the ethnic groups who are making their home in Ireland, according to Itayi Viriri of the Irish Refugee Council. He added that having the procedure carried out within the community is the norm and that it especially applies to males from Islamic communities and from Eastern and West African countries.

"This is definitely a cultural and in some aspects a religious tradition", he continued. "It is legally available in Ireland and is carried out by qualified personnel. However, most of these communities, even when they move away from home, would have somebody who is designated to carry it out within the community. In Africa you would not need to go to a hospital for the procedure and in most cases everything is fine. Even if a family are modernised and affluent enough to have the circumcision carried out in a hospital, it would not matter, as it is a question of cultural beliefs."

Reacting to the tragedy, however, Dr. Maurice Geuret - a member of the Eastern Regional Health Authority - said Ireland had become a `haven' for bogus doctors, an issue which had been highlighted but not addressed.

Failed the family
Meanwhile a member of the Irish College of General Practitioners' General Practice in a Multicultural Society has slated the Irish medical system for failing the Osaghae family.

Dr. Philip Crowley, project director, said the South Eastern Health Board had been contacted earlier this year over concerns about the board's failure to provide this service in Waterford. "This tragedy has shown us that if people are determined to have a child circumcised, they will do so. [He wouldn't say that if the dead "child" had been a girl. He would call for better enforcement of the law outlawing genital mutilation, and education for parents in the harm and human rights affront of these practices. Consider the rest of the paragraph if a little girl had died:] Ireland is now a multicultural society and we should have these services available to those who chose to use them. We have made several representations over the past months, urging the health board to develop this service. People would be less likely to have these procedures done in their own home, were they available in our hospitals. This little boy wouldn't have died were the procedure carried out in a hospital."

Fine Gael's Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Gay Mitchell TD said the tragedy had raised profound issues which must be addressed without further delay, namely that the religious and cultural traditions of those who seek male circumcision should be respected and accommodated within the public hospital system.

"There has been a huge change in Irish society and this should be provided for. A Green Paper on Immigration should be published by the Government so that these issues can be addressed comprehensively by the Oireachtas and State Agencies. The Minister of State for European Affairs at the Department of the Taoiseach co-ordinates European issues across Departments. The Government Chief Whip, as the other Minister of State at that Department, should co-ordinate immigrant policies so they can be addressed across Departments and a Minister can be held directly responsible for policy issues. At present nobody is in charge of immigrant issues and this cannot be allowed to continue."


Press Release in Civil Rights Circumcision Case

From: J. Steven Svoboda
Date: 31 Jul 2003
Time: 14:16:44

National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC)
PO Box 2512, San Anselmo, CA 94979 Fax/Phone 415-488-9883

Embargoed For: 8/4/2003

$25 million civil rights circumcision case to protect Spanish speaking families starts trial Monday in federal court

Brooklyn, NY - Two days after he was born on August 25, 1997 at Elmurst Hospital Center in Queens, New York City, Evagelos Armatas was circumcised by a first-year medical resident who was untrained in the procedure. Hospital employees coerced "consent "from Evagelos' mother, Rebeca Armatas. According to the complaint filed in Federal court, Elmhurst - which is owned by New York City - has a pattern and practice of inducing Spanish-speaking mothers to sign "consent" forms for circumcision when they don't understand what they are signing and without first being informed - as is legally required - of the risks, harms and alleged benefits of male circumcision. The "consent" form signed by Rebeca Armatas was not translated into Spanish, was not properly witnessed or executed, and was not explained to Rebeca prior to securing her signature.

Infant circumcision is unheard of in both the mother's Ecuadorian and the father's Greek cultures. Evagelos' circumcision has led to his estrangement from the community and family of his father.

The circumcision needlessly caused Evagelos substantial pain and suffering, has permanently scarred him, and, as an adult, he will experience the sexual dysfunction that follows all circumcisions. The procedure also caused Evagelos and his parents significant psychological harm.

The case is being heard in Brooklyn Federal Court, with Judge Bernard Friedman presiding. Damages are sought under a number of relevant laws, including the Civil Rights Act, in the amount of twenty-five million dollars, plus punitive damages and attorneys' fees. Attorneys working on the case include Paul Garner of Brewster, New York, Charles Bonner of Sausalito, California, and J. Steven Svoboda of Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, Berkeley, California.


J. Steven Svoboda, and Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, a legal support center acting to support genital integrity and stop all forms of male and female circumcision, can be reached at 1-510-595-5550.


Gwinnett Daily Post (Georgia)
July 19, 2003

Mutilation case first ever in the country

By Andria Simmons

LAWRENCEVILLE — A Gwinnett female circumcision case, the first ever documented case in the United States, has drawn the attention of an international nonprofit agency which will host a conference in Atlanta this weekend.
Female genital mutilation (FGM), as it is termed by experts, is routinely practiced in many African countries and officials have always believed that immigrant communities in the U.S. continue the custom. Female circumcision is a custom to preserve the virginity of young girls and limit sexuality of women, according to the Amnesty International Web site.
However, no criminal case had been documented in the U.S. until a 27-year-old Loganville man, Khalid Adem, was accused in March of circumcising his 3-year-old daughter with a pair of scissors.
The case drew the attention of an international nonprofit organization called Equality Now, which funds anti-FGM awareness and education programs in eight countries across Africa. Equality Now decided to move its annual international meeting of African anti-FGM activists, which is scheduled for this weekend, from Nairobi, Kenya, to Atlanta after Adem’s case became public.
Laws against female circumcision have been passed in eight states, including West Virginia, Tennessee and Texas, and a federal law also bans the practice. However, none of the laws have ever been used to prosecute anyone, according to Equality Now director Taina Bien-Aime. Georgia Sen. Nadine Thomas, D-Decatur, plans to introduce a bill prohibiting the practice in Georgia.
A press conference is scheduled for Monday morning at the state Capitol in Atlanta to discuss the bill.
Anti-FGM activists hope the Georgia law, if passed, will be tailored after the U.S. law, which does not force prosecutors to prove malicious intent by the accused.
Adem, currently out on bond, is charged with aggravated assault and cruelty to children under Georgia law, both of which have the component of malicious intent.
“There is no malicious intent if you are from a practicing community,” Bien-Aime said.
“A good defense lawyer could put forth the defense of culture, but the states that have the anti-FGM law do not permit tradition of culture as a defense.”
Activists have also been talking with the U.S. Attorney General’s Office in hopes it will take up the case, according to Bien-Aime.
There is no doubt the youngster was circumcised, but Adem’s attorney W. Mark Hill of Lawrenceville asserted during a preliminary hearing his client was not responsible and  someone else performed the circumcision.
Adem and his wife started divorce proceedings two years ago, and the mother on March 11 filed a criminal complaint about the circumcision with police.
18/07/2003 20:36 - (SA)


The snip doesn't cut it

Willemien Brüer

Cape Town - Researchers at the Medical Research Council have established that circumcision is not, as previously thought, a way to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids among heterosexual men.

Some previous studies have indicated that circumcision could prevent the spread of the virus.

Dr Nandi Siegfried says: "It's not true, because men who have been circumcised can get HIV/Aids.

She formed part of a group who published an article about the subject in the highly-respected Cochrane Library database. Among her co-workers were associates of Cape Town, Oxford, Bristol, Liverpool and the British Medical Research Council.

Siegfried says studies now being undertaken have indicated that circumcision could prevent the spread of the disease to some degree, but until the research has been completed, "it may be irresponsible to say circumcision will be a fool-proof method".

The researchers have completed a review of 35 case studies using research methods developed by the international Cochrane collaboration database. It differs from previous reviews in that case studies from all over the world have been incorporated.

Siegfried is of the opinion that previous research was not always of a high standard, because some didn't make use of control groups. [and for a variety of other reasons]

A study is being undertaken among 1 750 Gauteng men who will be circumcised and a similar control group who will not be circumcised. The men will be tested at 3, 12 and 21 months for HIV/Aids and results will be compared afterwards.

Similar studies are now being done in Kenya and Uganda.


Thu, 17 Jul 2003 21:42:03 -0500

Medical center policy affects circumcisions

By Desiree Hunter
Associated Press Writer

JACKSON, Miss.—The number of circumcisions has dropped drastically at the University of Mississippi Medical Center since a new policy of charging for the procedure was implemented.

Since July 1, when the policy began, just about a fifth of patients are still interested in having their children circumcised, said Dr. Bryan Cowan, chairman of UMC’s obstetric and gynecology department.

For at least the past 20 years, that department has picked up the tab for circumcisions by including the optional procedure in the general cost associated with delivering baby boys.

But circumcisions have now been made separate, and parents have to pay about $220 at the time of delivery in order to have it done, Cowan said.

“Over the years the pediatric groups have come together and have made this a completely elective procedure,” Cowan said. [It has never been compulsory, though some doctors have done it without asking. It certainly isn't ever "elected" by the penis's owner.]

“So with no agency willing to pay for this, we simply structured a fee system for this and have now applied it to the patients,” he said.

The fee for circumcisions has to be paid in full before doctors will perform the procedure, Cowan said.

Since circumcision has not yet [implying it might some day] been proved to be a necessary medical procedure with definite benefits [though circumcisors have been desperately looking for a reason to do it for over a century], most insurance companies don’t pay for it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said there is some scientific evidence showing potential benefits, but not enough for the academy to recommend it as a routine procedure. [It goes on to say, "parents of all male infants should be given accurate and unbiased information." Judge for yourself whether this article does that.]

In its most recent policy statement, the academy said an estimated 1.2 million newborn males are circumcised in the United States at a cost of between $150 and $270 million.

The 1999 policy states that circumcised males have a smaller chance [than the very small chance for intact males] of developing urinary tract infection during their first year of life, a three times lower chance of developing penile cancer [at a very old age, and again, lower than an already very low chance] and could have a reduced risk for developing syphilis [The AAP policy actually says, "Evidence regarding the relationship of circumcision to STD in general is complex and conflicting."] and HIV infections. [It goes on to say "behavioral factors appear to be far more important risk factors in the acquisition of HIV infection than circumcision status."]

But the policy also says that babies who are circumcised without pain relief may respond more strongly to pain of future immunizations than those who are uncircumcised.

Though rare, minor complications of mild bleeding and local infections [and major complications of loss of the penis and death] also have been associated with the surgery. [The AAP actually says "The true incidence of complications after newborn circumcision is unknown. "]

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